At the end of the day, as we walked back to the truck, a rooster flushed. Having played guide that day, I was the only one in our group who hadn’t gotten my limit. This one was mine. The rooster came down the draw towards and past me. I fired once, twice, then I fired my last shell. On the third shot the rooster folded.
When he served them up, the steaks looked pretty typical: browned on the outside, with a pink strip in the center, just how I like ‘em. I wasn’t prepared for how it would taste. I couldn’t believe it. I finally had to ask, “What are we eating?”
I’m not sure how either one of us made it down that slope without a broken ankle, nor who was more excited, me or the dog, but after retrieving the bird we both sat down for a good twenty minutes to catch our breath, admire the bird’s beautiful plumage, and enjoy what I’ll always remember as a perfect moment.
In addition to an unforgettable experience and the opportunity to put delicious food on the table, the Slam Program offers rewards to hunters who are successful in harvesting various upland game species.
All of the sudden we found ourselves surround by turkeys! As a couple of hens ran off, we heard the thunderous GOBBLE-GOBBLE of the tom wondering why the hens were leaving him. We watched as he strutted by just out of range and fed up over the hill. We quietly slipped out and set up in this draw again the next time out.
As the alarm went off, I remember thinking just five more minutes! But, I could hear the commotion of the hunting party layering on the camouflage. I honestly don’t think Dakota slept that night.
About five minutes later, Gauge’s tail helicoptered again. A lone chukar flushed in front of me, headed straight away; I pulled my gun up and shot once just as the bird was about to disappear behind the ridgeline. The bird crumbled in midair and fell out of sight.
Joshua put his hands over his ears and motioned to Isaiah to do the same as I set the hair trigger on my 50-caliber muzzleloader. Within seconds after the smoke cleared, the animal stopped running and it was over. The boys were beside themselves. The look on their faces was one of excitement and sheer joy.
I was so anxious and excited sitting in my little blind, I could barely contain myself. Anytime a bird came anywhere close, my heart would race and I’d start wiggling. Rich and Chad used different calls to attract the birds. You could see birds change directions in flight in response to the calls. Very fun to watch.
To me, the most satisfying thing about the Waterfowl Slam is that every dollar raised from this program is going towards creating or enhancing waterfowl habitat in Utah. So far we have raised over $10,000 that will go directly back into habitat projects around the state!
I, meanwhile, popped away at the birds with my little single shot Savage. Miss after miss followed. “Man,” I said to myself, “these ducks are hard to hit!” Finally, a big drake mallard flew straight at me. I shot, and it fell. What a thrill!
For those who enjoy an upland game hunting challenge, don’t mind braving the elements and prefer to avoid crowds, late-season forest grouse hunting may be something to consider.